Guinea: The end of a tumultuous era?

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Jean-Marie Dore, spokesperson for the Forces Vives, a coalition of political parties and civil society groups in Guinea against the military junata, has been appointed interim prime minister of Guinea and handed the huge job of leading the country through national elections, without a break in civility. Shortly after his nomination on Tuesday, the 70 year-old president of UPG (Union of Forces for the Progress of Guinea), known for his toughness, has rejected the Ouagadougou accord and does not rule out his candidacy in the presidential elections.

Born in 1938, Jean Marie-Doré is a veteran in the west African country’s political sphere. He actively participated in local politics at the age of 15, when he joined his father, head of the Manna Canton. A doctor in political science, he studied in France and Switzerland and later became a senior civil servant at the International Labour Office (ILO), in Geneva. He returned to Guinea in 1988, created his own political party (UPG) and also started a transport company. Mr. Doré has since become the face of Guinean opposition, especially after running against the Late President, Lansana Conté in 1993 and 1998.

Shortly after appending his signature to the agreement that sees Mr. Doré into office, Thursday, Defense Minister, General Sebouka Konate, who assumed leadership of Guinea after the assassination attempt on Captain Dadis Camara, implored his fellow soldiers to realize that the military government had lost support from Guineans. According to analysts, the decision has come as a result of intense international and domestic pressure on the army. Nonetheless, there are unconfirmed reports of divisions within the military, with some willing to return to the barracks and some wanting to stay in power. Other divisions in Guinea, with politicians and trade unions now at loggerheads, have been reported.

An optimistic plan

But according to Idrissa Chérif, head of communications for the interim president, “the opposition leader was not only chosen for his experience in politics but also for his knowledge of Guinean politics”. This experience will be put to the test between now and January 28, when he is expected to announce his team at the meeting of the contact group in Addis Ababa. To consolidate more support against the military, the veteran has to balance both regional and ethnic representation in his new government. He will also be tasked with satisfying the political ambitions of the Forces Vives and the newfound political appetite of the CNDD (the military junta), who have expressed their desire to control key ministries, including Defense, Foreign affairs, Finance and Economy.

Following these developments, analysts have argued that the system now in place in Guinea is nothing more than an optimistic plan: As elections are to be held in only six months, and no member of the military or the transition government will be allowed to stand. But Richard Moncrieff of the International Crisis Group believes that it is not yet known how much power the new prime minister and the other civilian members of the transition government will have. “We don’t yet know how capable the politicians are. They have shown resilience and a willingness to stick to a coherent line – we’ll have to wait to see if they can provide a road-map to get Guinea out of this crisis,” Mr. Moncrieff was quoted as saying.

No ceremonial figure

However, the new Guinean prime minister, widely known for his toughness, has warned that he is not going to play the ceremonial figure. In an interview with Radio France Internationale, he questioned the formula used for the allocation of ministerial positions by CNDD: Ten ministries for the opposition, ten for the CNDD, and ten for the four regional representations. “I am not aware of this allocation. There is no document from the CNDD or the Forces Vives accepting this allocation. I can therefore not comment on it,” Jean-Marie Doré said.

More interestingly, the veteran does not exclude the possibility of standing as a candidate for the presidential elections, which are to be held in six months, despite the fact that the Ouagadougou accord prohibits the participation of members of the interim government. Conversely, Mr. Doré says that that clause does not hold water “since the Forces Vives were not represented”.

Meanwhile, residents of Guinean capital, Conakry, have indicated that the soldiers are still around, although they are not patrolling like they used to. But there are signs of change, as the soldiers gradually return to the barracks.

Analysts say the military stand to lose power and face criminal charges from the ICC, over the September 28, 2009, stadium massacres that left over 150 Guinean demonstrators dead.

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